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  • 2020-07-20

Do you know that paying a significant focus on the physical symptoms may lead to distress which eventually may take the form of a disorder known as Somatic Symptom Disorder?
Definitely you did not know! Read on to know all about Somatic Symptom Disorder


Somatic symptom disorder is a disorder in which the person has a notable focus on physical symptoms, such as pain, weakness, or shortness of breath which may result in major distress and may also create functioning problems. The person faces excessive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the physical symptoms.

 It was earlier known as the somatoform disorder. Mental disorders that display physical symptoms that suggest illness or injury. Somatic symptom disorder is not completely described by a general medical condition, a direct effect of substance and is also not assigned to other mental disorders

A person may not be diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder entirely as a medical cause cannot be identified for a physical symptom. The major emphasis is on the degree to which the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the illness becomes extreme 


Somatic Symptom Disorder’s focus is on the physical symptoms which could be pain or fatigue; leading to major emotional distress and problems functioning. Somatic Symptom Disorder has 7 types and which are as follows:

Somatization Disorder: This type involves multiple symptoms, a combination of pain, gastrointestinal distress, neurological problems (such as numbness), and sexual dysfunction. It develops before age 30 and lasts for years.
Undifferentiated Somatoform Disorder: An individual with this type of somatic disorder has unexplained physical symptoms for a period of at least six months, but do not meet the diagnostic threshold for somatization disorder.
Conversion disorder: A person with Conversion Disorder faces unexplained neurological deficits in movement or sensory perception that are most likely to be caused by psychological factors. 
Pain disorder: The main symptom of this disorder is pain; its onset, severity, and continuation are contributed by psychological factors 
Hypochondriasis: It is the preoccupation with or fear of having a particular disease; rather than a focus over the individual symptoms. 
Body Dysmorphic disorder: The person pays excessive focus on a perceived defect in physical appearance or any particular part of the body. 
Somatoform disorder not otherwise specified: There are unexplained physical symptoms that do not meet the criteria for the other somatoform disorders.



The causes of the disorder could be many. Some of them are listed below
    Biological vulnerability
    Exposure to stress during childhood
    Physical and sexual abuse during childhood
    Lack of awareness of emotions during childhood, which may be the result of things such as parental neglect or lack of emotional closeness.
    Possible signs of illness and more attention to bodily processes
    Uncontrolled anxiety and low pain threshold 



    Pain is the most common symptom 
    Fatigue or weakness
    Neurological symptoms like headaches, movement disorders, dizziness, fainting
    The individual may also have some digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea 
    Painful periods and pain during sexual activity are sexual symptoms which may have to be faced
    Along with these symptoms the individuals also face Anxiety and Depression
    Excessive thoughts, feelings, and behavior about these symptoms

This disorder is more common in females and the symptoms could range from mild to severe 



The diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder requires the individual to undergo a physical exam or laboratory tests if required. Somatic Symptom Disorder can be diagnosed by visiting a Physician for physical and laboratory examination. The physician may refer the individual to a Clinical Psychologist or a Mental Health Provider for psychological assessment.



The major focus of the treatment is to improve the daily functioning and the ability to function. The treatment involves   

  Psychotherapy:  Psychotherapy helps in reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, helps in knowing how to cope up with the physical symptoms, improve daily functioning.
   Medications: The doctor may prescribe antidepressants that reduce the symptoms of pain and depression which are common symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder.
   Lifestyle and Home Remedies: Lifestyle and Home Remedies also work as a treatment for Somatic Symptom Disorder. Remedies like working with care providers, practicing stress management and relaxation techniques, getting physically active, participating in various activities, and avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs; help in reducing symptoms of Somatic Symptom Disorder.


Ms. Kunika Bhola (Psychologist & Content Writer)
Here is everything about Somatic Symptom Disorder. Do not panic and stress if you feel you are going through this disorder, get yourself checked to consult a physician and a psychologist. Stay positive and fight the disorder. 


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